Every landed noble has an estate - either a manor or some rooms in the local castle. The estate also contains his servants, scribes and other commoners.
Daily management of a region requires these estates. They form the local bureaucracy, it is from these people that the tax collectors, administration and police chiefs are recruited.
Since even for the smallest region, a single estate is insufficient, region management becomes a joint effort of the local lord and his knights.
Only local lords and their knights get estates. A duke gets an estate as lord of the city/stronghold, but not as duke. Knights sworn to the duke as duke (i.e. receiving a share of the duchy income, not the region income) do not, and knights sworn to the king do not, either.
There are currently only three types of estates, though this might change in the future:
- The estate isn't doing anything. This keeps its running costs low, but it does not add to region economics.
- The estate servants aid in keeping the regions production running and the tax collection working.
- The estate supports the local police and militia, keeping the peasants happy and under control.
The local lords estate is always the largest, but knight estates can be enlarged in size. A larger estate will be more expensive, but also more efficient. However, there are diminishing returns on investment - two small estates are more effective than one large estate. It is also possible to develop a claim on a region by enlarging your estate in that region.
There are three sizes of Estate. You start with the smallest size, and can upgrade to a medium size for 25 gold, and a large size for a further 50 gold.
Every region has a required amount of effort to keep in shape. Going beyond this amount does not provide any additional benefits (more tax collectors don't collect more taxes), but failing to reach the required amount will have negative effects on either production or region control.
Only the local lord can see if the requirements are currently met, but he can not see who of his lords has set his estate to which values. This lack of information is intentional and creates mutual bonding - while the knights need the lord for guidance, the lord needs the knights to cooperate.
The required amount and size of estates depends on two factors: Region type and population. Regions with densely populated areas are easier to manage than those with scattered peasants. In most cases, these two effects level out, as the densely populated regions are also usually those with the highest populations. But it means that a small city is easier to manage than a large townsland region with the same population, for example.
The major game effect of estates is that they make it a necessity for lords to recruit knights. A careful lord will also recruit more knights than is strictly necessary, because he will not risk his region suffering if a knight leaves. Estates do not suffer from the absence (prison, wounding, etc.) of their noble, but knights can only change their estate size or type while in the region, which makes region management and prolonged wars more difficult to juggle.
Estates also give knights a little leverage against their lord. If several knights of a region set their estates to idle, the lord might be more willing to listen to their requests...